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Before you choose a system of antenatal care, you should think about whether you would prefer a home or a hospital birth. This is an important decision and one that you and your partner should be happy with. Both locations have advantages and disadvantages. If you are unsure now, you can make up your mind later. Also consider how long it takes to travel to the hospital or clinic for your check-ups and when labour begins.
Even if you are feeling on top of the world, you should not miss your antenatal visits. The aim of antenatal care is to monitor your general well-being and identify potential problems for the mother and the baby before they become serious. This may involve simple interentions such as iron tablets for anaemia, or regular scans for twins, some women do, however need help for a range of medical and psychological problems. Often new mothers to be just need reassurance that all is well.
You can discuss your antenatal care options with your doctor or a midwife. If you are having your baby in hospital, a letter is sent to the hospital and you will receive an appointment letter or you can telephone and make this appointment. If you choose the Domino or Team systems, a midwife will contact you and visit you at home for your first check-up.
Discuss the options with your doctor or midwife as soon as you can. The possibility of a home birth will depend largely on whether your pregnancy is considered low-risk or high-risk. Women with high-risk pregnancies are usually advised to have a hospital birth. If you are told that you have a low-risk pregnancy, and no complications develop during your pregnnacy, a home birth is an option to consider.
In team midwifery and midwifert group practices you have a high chance of being delivered by one of the same small group of midwives who have been involved in your antenatal check-ups. The only way to ensure that you see the same midwife throughout and have her attend your delivery is to pay for the care of an independent midwife.
Many general practitioners have had training in obstetrics and can therefore provide your antenantal care throughout your pregnancy, but few get involved in the delivery itself. Your own doctor may agree to attend you at home, but you need to discuss this with him or her before the labour.
Many hospitals provide facilities and staff with extra traning for those with special needs such as deafness and physical disabilities. Today midwifery traning usually includes instruction on helping women with special needs. Some hospitals also cater for particular diets including Halal or Kosher. Check with your chosen hospital.
In general, doctors recommend that first babies and high-risk pregnancies are delivered in hospital where equipment and expertise are on hand in case of complications. Some women prefer to be in their own home, especially if they have other children to care for.
Often there is a choice of local hospitals and it is worth comparing their facilities and asking questions about their procedures. Ask around if you want your community midwife to deliver, she will usually be based at one hospital.
Where you decide to have your antenatal care will depend on what kind of birth you want and what is available in your area. Talk to your doctor or midwife about the local hospitals and care systems. Travel may also be a factor.